Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, 22 June 1780

To Benjamin Franklin

Paris June 23d. [i.e. 22d] 17801


I have this Day the honour of a Letter from his Excellency the Comte De Vergennes, on the subject of the Resolutions of Congress of the Eighteenth of March, concerning the Paper-Bills; in which his Excellency informs me that the Chevalier De La Luzerne has Orders to make the strongest Representations upon the Subject.

I am not certain whether his Excellency means that such Orders were sent so long ago, as to have reached the hand of the Minister at Congress, or whether they have been lately expedited; if the latter I submit it to your Excellency, whether it wou’d not be expedient to request that those Orders may be stopped until proper Representations can be made at Court; to the end that if it can be made to appear, as I firmly believe it may, that those Orders were given upon Misinformation, they may be revoked, otherwise sent on.2

Your Excellency will excuse this because it appears to me a matter of very great Importance. The Affair of our Paper is sufficiently dangerous and critical and if a Representation from his Majesty shou’d be made, Advantage will not fail to be taken of it, by the Tories, and by interested and disappointed Speculators who may spread an Alarm among many uninformed People so as to Endanger the public Peace. I have the honour to be with much Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant.

John Adams

RC in Francis Dana’s hand, signed by JA (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12); endorsed: “Juin 23.” Franklin sent this letter to Vergennes with his letter of 24 June (see note 2).

1A copy of this letter by Francis Dana (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 413–414) is endorsed: “Copy. Letter from J Adams to doct Franklin June 23. 1780—enclosed in Mr. Adam’s Letter of June 26 read Novr. 30th”; and bears Dana’s notation: “(NB.) This letter was written & sent on the 22d. tho’ dated by mistake the 23d.).”

2JA presumably hoped that Franklin would make his own defense of the revaluation, but Franklin’s note to Vergennes of 24 June, merely transmitted JA’s letter. Franklin asked that the instructions to La Luzerne, if not already sent, be delayed until JA, not himself, offered proof “by which it will appear that those Orders have been obtained by Misinformation” (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12). Replying on 30 June, Vergennes dismissed JA’s contention that La Luzerne’s instructions were based on erroneous information and refused to modify them (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 3:827).

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